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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.

 

 

Don’t Talk About It, Be About It – Lessons from the NFL

10 September 2014 by

Growing up, many of us often heard the old adage “actions speak louder than words.” And, as much as public relations professionals strive to build images and change behaviors with our strategies, perfectly planned events and clever copy, sometimes the best p.r. is action.

Case in point is the Baltimore Raven’s recent decision to cut one of its players after a disturbing video surfaced of the star running back punching his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City casino elevator.

The video didn’t leave much to question and also left the team without any possible way to spin the incident into something other than it was – a case of domestic violence that left the player’s fiancée, (now wife), unconscious on the elevator floor.

Whether you’re a football fanatic or someone who only watches the Super Bowl for the commercials, you’re probably well aware of the growing popularity of the sport in the U.S. and abroad. Beginning in the 2007 season, the NFL has hosted games outside of the U.S.

And, according to Forbes, the average NFL team is currently valued at more than $1.4 billion. That makes the NFL and its teams very much a business – a business that like any other must take actions to protect its reputation.

Talking points have their place in the NFL. And, there are teams and players who are doing wonderful things in the communities in which they play and live. Those deeds should be promoted.

But, when something as egregious as that infamous video comes to light, there’s no hiding behind a press release. The only course of action is immediate and swift action. Or in other words, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

B2B Tech Marketing Lessons from the ALS Ice Bucket Campaign

27 August 2014 by

No one can deny the great success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign. Its success has even caught its creator, Pat Quinn, off guard. He states, “I couldn’t imagine it would be like this. It’s been unbelievable.” He’s right – it is now a worldwide social phenomenon.

Marketers and agencies across the globe are being asked by their bosses and clients, “Why can’t you do a campaign like that for us?” Of course, it is easy to know when a viral (or guerilla) campaign is actually going to work after the fact. But, it is quite difficult to know ahead of time whether something is going to take off, particularly when it depends on user participation to not only succeed, but to fuel the flame of it going viral.

We are often asked if these types of campaigns have any lessons for B2B technology marketers, who tend to target “serious” business people within a corporate setting. Am I really going to get a CFO to do this type of campaign in a work setting, in front of peers, or by challenging peers?

 

Ice Bucket Challenge

Applicable to B2B Marketing?

 

It is much harder of course to execute a campaign like this within a B2B setting, because people are paid to do a job, not to participate in selfies and promote themselves in the process. Nevertheless, there are some serious lessons here from the ALS Ice Bucket campaign which should not be ignored.

  • First, when planning a campaign, particularly if it is viral, plan ahead on what you are going to do to get it started and make sure the flame continues. PR and corporate communications can play a vital role in supporting the initial efforts at having the campaign build some initial steam. You cannot necessarily create the snowball effect, but you can give the snowball a push at the beginning. Have a backup plan for how to get the campaign reinvigorated if it does not takeoff as initially planned.
  • Second, remember that even in a corporate setting, everyone loves a challenge, a contest, or a chance at winning something. Ice Bucket challenge works because it puts people on the spot to do the right thing. They win simply by participating and getting to challenge another. The “I dare you” part of this campaign is what makes it a must do for the next person.
  • Third, people are more likely to accept a challenge or incentive if it benefits others more than themselves. This seems counter-intuitive, but we have often found that a person is more happy to have $25 (or $50) given to their favorite charity than to receive it for themselves when they are asked to do something such as completing a survey. This is part of the ALS campaign genius – the end result is that it is being done for a charity not for oneself. People who participate can feel good about themselves.

In sum, what does this mean for B2B technology? Remember, you cannot control the outcome of a viral campaign, but you can try make it fun to increase chances of it taking off.

Tie it to something the individual within a company cares about. Challenge them to post themselves using your product in a selfie, but incent them to do so. Even better, ensure the incentive is for a charity they care about.

Keep it professional, but let customers run the show. Connect them to prospects through the campaign. It may not generate the notoriety of the recent Ice Bucket Challenge, but it may help put some new prospects in your pipeline and some new revenue towards your bottom line.

Technology in Georgia Leads the Way

26 August 2014 by

A few Arketians attended the PRSA Tech SIG event last week where TAG President Tino Mantella shared insights into the state of Georgia’s technology industry. Below are a few takeaways that we hope you can take pride in and share among the tech community!

AG president, shares insights on Georgia technology industry

Tino Mantella, TAG president, shares insights into the state of Georgia’s technology industry at the PRSA Tech SIG event.

 

  • Georgia’s technology companies continue to generate more jobs at a higher rate than the national average
  • Georgia leads the nation in six main areas: health IT, financial technology, marketing automation, logistics, mission critical (data centers) and entertainment marketing
  • Augusta is currently one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the nation
  • Fun fact: 70 – 80 percent of payment processes in the US flow through GA (making the fin tech sector HUGE)
  • STEM occupations are predicted to increase in Georgia by more than 22,000 during the current decade

For more tech insights, check out the complete 2014 State of the Industry Technology in Georgia Report at http://tagstateoftheindustry.com/2014/.