Demystifying the Marketing Funnel

Marketing Funnel

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Customer acquisition is a courtship. Brands are constantly challenged with attracting customers, converting them into qualified leads, and then executing sales. In the age of social media and online reviews, the relationship does not grind to a halt after the deal is final. Follow-up emails and relationship marketing tactics are opportunities to create brand evangelists.

Typically, most companies already have the tools to streamline their marketing funnel. The major shift is bringing that marketing funnel online. In the digital world, everything is trackable and measurable, allowing you to make more informed marketing actions.

Show, Don’t Tell

The widest part of the marketing funnel is brand-awareness, where you draw in people who haven’t heard of your brand. Marketing tools to increase awareness are based on education and information, the product, the service, and who you are. SEO strategy, blogs, and posts are where you put your brand’s best foot forward.

Find and engage

Once your top-level digital marketing efforts drive your target audience to your site, there’s a certain self-selection process that begins. Visitors coming to your site will drop off for a number of reasons – price point, not what they need – this is your bounce rate. An acceptable bounce rate will vary based on your industry and the volume of marketing and advertising you’re doing, but it’s important to keep track for your reference.

The next step is to engage your target audience using calls-to-action and lead capture forms, where you start to obtain information about them, their needs, and any actions you want them to take. You may want them to click the ‘make an appointment’ button, or submit their email to get an introductory packet.

It’s important to keep in mind where your customers are in their buying process as you produce content for social media, your blog, and your website.

Closing the Gap

You might find that new leads need a fair amount of nurturing before they convert into clients. In an industry as personal as mental health, this isn’t uncommon. This is where you maintain your circles of influence, and serve up information based on how your leads have interacted with your brand. As your leads move deeper into the funnel with more interest, take additional steps like reaching out with a phone call or offering a tour of your facility. There can be a dialogue to close the gap – you can ask your client what questions they have, and what other information they need to make their decision.

Once you’ve closed the lead, the real work begins. This can be as simple as a follow-up call to the client. If you receive any negative feedback, view it as constructive. Identify pain points in your marketing funnel and make it smoother for your next round of incoming customers. These carefully cultivated relationships are a huge asset – customers provide data for you to improve current and future customer experiences. Acknowledging feedback also shows you listen, and that positive feeling creates brand evangelists that share their positive experience and encourages others to go check you out.

Whitespace is the New Orange

WhitespaceDish soap. Lipstick. Car. We’re inundated with beautiful, intriguing and thought-provoking print ads daily, about 300-700 a day to be more precise.

But, what about a print ad makes it a standout?

Color?  Space?  The hottest Pantone trends of the year? Actually, there IS a science behind it.  Not to get all ‘Gestalt’ with you, but people really do visually digest color and space in beautifully different and impactful ways.

Have you ever been walking along, and suddenly a scent ‘hits’ you?  In seconds, you’re transported to childhood carnival days of fried funnel cake deliciousness.  Suddenly, you have cotton candy and long summer days on your mind…and that one time your brother lost his hat on the roller coaster. Those were the days…

Color is kind of like that. It moves us.  We see it, and we feel it.

Whitespace—what is that all about?

We refer to it as “white” space but it doesn’t even have to be white! It can, in fact, be any other solid color, gradient or pattern. Being that whitespace represents a gap between the positive elements of the page, it’s also called negative space.

What? Whitespace isn’t actually always white?  Mind blown.  But wait, though it may be termed ‘negative space’, it’s actually a positive.  Our brains crave a place to go on the page…a place to wander and rest.  A place to chill and explore. An ad that’s too busy leads to a convoluted, busy brain. Unless you’re intent on finding Waldo on a very cluttered page, ‘whitespace’ provides a much needed visual break.  It’s equally important as graphics and, its buddy, positive space.

So, there’s no need to get all negative about white space. It has many benefits and is a necessary component of design.

Why we should invite whitespace to our design party:

  • Our human eyes much prefer to look at things that are not crowded and busy to us.
  • The use of whitespace carves the path to a clearer communication of ideas and effective graphic designs.
  • It allows room for imagination and creativity—If you have ever stared long and hard at a blank canvas and envisioned a world of possibilities prior to picking up a paintbrush, you can relate.
  • Whitespace attracts the eyes. Google is besties with whitespace.  Consider their landing page: the simplistic design with all that space, and the enticing search bar… the world feels as though it is at your fingertips.  And it is.

White spaceRemember these few tips when designing for people, and your marketing will go to further places because of those white spaces.

Top 5 Things to do in Fort Collins this Summer

shutterstock_282406649Say goodbye to those soaked rain jackets and umbrellas (what was up with that, May?) and finally say hello to warm Colorado sunshine, your favorite pair of flip flops, and well deserved tan lines! Summertime in Fort Collins is finally here, and it’s time to soak up the sun with good people and fun adventures. Get your calendars out, and get ready to see what all this beautiful city has to offer with the top 5 things you should be doing in Fort Collins this summer!

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Meet Sierra, A-Train’s newest team member

A-Train Marketing grows to be one of the largest advertising agencies in Fort Collins

As part of a recent growth spurt, A-Train welcomed Sierra Bentz, a graduating Communication Studies student at Colorado State University, aboard as their new Administrative Assistant Intern.

Sierra Bentz headshot

Sierra’s work in Corporate Event Management and her involvement with Colorado State University’s Center for Public Deliberation demonstrated her vast array of communication skills and her eagerness to learn by doing. “My comprehensive understanding of communication theory and my ability to apply that knowledge to real life situations should be an asset to our clients,” explains Sierra. “I am very excited to expand my own knowledge of Marketing and Communications by working with A-Train.”

The new hire was a perfect fit, due to Sierra’s role as the point person for deliberative forums regarding mental health issues and A-Train’s specialization in the behavioral health market. “I’m fortunate to have a deeper understanding of the mental health landscape because of my experience, and I’m looking forward to engaging with the community on a whole new level.”

“Sierra’s energy and enthusiasm is invigorating,” said Gretchen Gaede, president of A-Train Marketing. “We welcome fresh perspectives in an industry that is constantly changing.”

This recent hire brings A-Train’s total staff up to 11 staff members, making them one of the largest marketing and advertising firms in Fort Collins and the greater Northern Colorado area. The company has added 4 employees in the last 6 months – Simone Cordery-Cotter, Wade Corliss, Madison Crowley, and now Sierra Bentz.

A-Train Marketing welcomes Madison Crowley, new Account Manager

Madison Crowley headshotA-Train is happy to announce the addition of Madison Crowley to the staff as their new Account Manager. Madison’s role will include managing client communications, and managing marketing and advertising for A-Train’s multiple behavioral health clients, such as North Range Behavioral Health and Touchstone Health Partners.

Her previous job working as a Social Media Strategist for IBMC College provided Madison with the opportunity to further develop her skills in professional communication, critical thinking, and strategic planning. “I know how to take a concept and turn it into something tangible,” she explains, expressing her excitement to direct these skills into her work with A-Train and help clients meet their marketing goals.

A-Train’s strong community focus and innovative approach to marketing appealed to Madison, who is relatively new to Colorado and appreciates the company’s local involvement. “I am also eager to be a part of A-Train’s fast-paced agency environment and to bring my creative flare to the team and our clients”, she explains.

“We are very excited Madison is joining the team as we continue to grow into the behavioral health vertical,” explains Gretchen Gaede, President at A-Train Marketing. “As we expand, we’re quickly becoming the go-to marketing agency for behavioral health providers in Colorado, and Madison’s ability to create connections with clients and strategically promote their visions will really lend to the demands of this market.”

 

A-Train Marketing welcomes new content specialist, Wade Corliss

College of Businessat Colorado State UniversityAs A-Train Marketing Communications, Inc. zooms down the tracks of growth and development, their team eagerly welcomes Wade Corliss aboard. Wade will contribute his skills in marketing and communications as A-Train’s newest Content Specialist. Wade will primarily manage client social media content and blogging efforts. The growing need for content production and A-Train’s increased client base made hiring Wade an easy decision.

His four years of experience working as the Communications Resident for Colorado State University’s College of Business provided Wade with a thorough understanding of how to creatively and strategically manage social media content. “My wide spectrum of skills, and my willingness to learn will make me a great resource to A-Train and our diverse range of clients”, explains Wade.

Like many others on A-Train’s team, Wade commends the deep-rooted community values of Gretchen Gaede and Ryan Keiffer, co-owners of A-Train. “I am excited to be a part of this rapidly-expanding team and to devote my own unique skills and creative ideas to help the marketing firm continue along this pathway of growth”, states Wade.

“The recent grown has been amazing”, says Gretchen Gaede. “We’re thrilled to have Wade join us. He’s a CSU business school alum, and we really respect the college and the quality of students they turn out. Wade has already proven himself as very hard working and insightful!”

Facebook Pages Photo Size Guide

Your Facebook page has a new face.

Here’s the updated Facebook photos size guide and our roundup of favorite features.

Facebook started rolling out “a streamlined look for pages” back in March of 2014. Aside from taking a little getting used to, the updated page is already making it easier for us to quickly access our admin tools. We also appreciate that Facebook’s new layout acknowledges that photos and videos make up a major part of the site’s appeal and success by featuring them more prominently.

Optimizing Photos for Updated Pages:

Facebook has never made controlling your visual identity as easy as it could be. Picking and aligning photos has always taken some trial and error. If you were just getting used to how each type of image was presented differently on a page, profile or timeline, we feel your pain.

The good news is that the new page layout will be familiar to you, since it now shares the two column look of personal profiles. The top navigation, cover and profile photos have changed slightly, but remain atop all pages. Now, all of the page’s posts appear in the right column and the left column centralizes important information about your brand.

Cover Photo

The page name, category and a few buttons have moved onto the cover photo’s turf. In order to insure readability, Facebook has applied a dark gradient over the bottom of all cover photos. While this doesn’t please most of the graphic designers and social media managers we know, we like seeing more of our page appear before the fold.

facebook-page-marketing-design-cover

Profile Photo

Note in the example above, that the profile photo is displayed at 160px by 160px. Despite this, you must upload an image at least 180px by 180px. We recommend uploading larger images to accomodate higher resolution displays. You can upload a non-square image and then crop the image with their photo editor.

facebook-page-marketing-design-profileKeep in mind that there is a white border added around the profile photo. You won’t be able to get rid of that.

 

Timeline vs. Newsfeed Image Sizes

When posting images, keep in mind that the same image will be cropped to fit in different settings around the site. On your page’s timeline, square images will display best (504px by 504px), but they will also be cropped to a horizontal shape (472px by 394px) in your friends’ newsfeeds. A person will have to click on the image and leave their newsfeed to see the entire thing in a full screen setting. At this size, the image can be cropped oddly, leaving out important or contextual details, or cutting out someone’s middle and leaving their head out of the photo, so take a careful look at the preview and adjust as needed.

 

facebook newsfeed photo dimensions             facebook photo dimensions

 

Videos

A small change that foreshadows some major change, Facebook recently incorporated an autoplay feature for Instagram, Vine, and Facebook videos in your newsfeed. We noticed that scrolling down over the video starts it automatically, and then scrolling past it pauses it.  After fielding some complaints, Facebook introduced a feature that allows you to turn off the autoplay, but this feature smacks of something larger in Facebook’s future.facebook video dimensionsFacebook already reaches audiences larger than the biggest broadcast networks during primetime. With a captive audience in front of their friend’s newsfeeds and with opportunities for sponsored content dropped directly into autoplay windows, Facbook has an opportunity for massive amounts of video advertising. And with the gradual introduction of a mobile-based carousel that continuously suggests related videos, much like YouTube, the new video interface could encourage much longer watch times and more passive video watching.
 

Shared Links

Again, this is an instance in which images show up differently in newsfeed versus your timeline. In the newsfeed, your shared links will show up slightly smaller, at 472 x  246. The larger photos mean that mobile users are subjected to a more predominantly visual layout, which gives more preference to user-generated content like photos and videos. This also means for marketers that your meta descriptions need to be clean, because they are what appear in the blurb underneath the featured photo. And for those that haven’t gotten into the swing yet, it also means that no content is complete without an eye-catching visual.

Event Photos

Finally, for events, there is a slightly new look that deviates from the randomly suitable thumbnail that some of us tend to upload. The entire image is 784 by 295, taking up the upper part of the event page above the fold for a large visual representation of whatever will be happening. Keep in mind that the event title is superimposed over the lower part of the cover photo in white text, so avoid competing copy or light colored images. If there is a face in the cover photo, the thumbnail view will

facebook event photo dimensions

focus on the face present and adjust the events list thumbnail and advertisement view accordingly.

 

The new Facebook shows a marked dedication to expanding visual content offerings and making them more appealing for users. The larger photo dimensions in the newsfeeds and timelines are good news for marketers – a sponsored post with a large, engaging visual will blend better into the newsfeed and have a chance of greater engagement. It also means that video content has a real place to grow on the social networking platform – dare we say it could be competitive with YouTube?

 

What We Learned From Kirk Dando and His New Book

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Local leadership and growth expert Kirk Dando spoke to a full room of business leaders and mangers last night at New Belgium Brewing Co’s community room. With a voice that filled the room without a microphone, Kirk discussed what motivated him to write the book in the first place. After almost 20 years of experience, he had reached a tipping point. “We’re full of knowledge, we don’t need any more knowledge. What we need is a way to practically apply that knowledge.” Kirk talks about the challenges he faced during his own experience as a C-level executive for a billion dollar company – “We faced challenges. I was surround by coaches and executives that gave me advice, but trying to apply that advice was like wrestling a ghost.” The book, Predictive Leadership, seeks to address that issue by promising a toolkit for looking objectively at any business as it passes the lean start-up phase, and transitions into the getting serious growth phase.

The pivot point for most businesses that takes them past start-up phase to hyper-growth phase is a large investment. Typically investment goes into production, to further spur the money-making proposition that started it all in the first place. With increased production, sales have room to grow, and revenues sky-rocket. But Dando addresses a key mistake that many companies make as they launch into the stratosphere – they forget the down-to-earth values that brought them to success in the first place. And we believe that in marketing, this is key. Your core values constitute what your brand is all about. The values are the intrinsic vow you are making to your consumers. When you espouse your sustainability practices or your insistence on high quality, your consumers hear you and endorse those values by purchasing your product and service. When your company fails to deliver what your brand promises, the cultural backlash can be swift and brutal, especially given the avenues of social media. Your marketing strategy should share these values with your consumers and audience, but that’s only half of the puzzle. Your delivery of core values constitutes you holding up your end of the bargain, your response to the trust your consumers place in you. Expectations of brands and companies are higher than ever – it’s no longer enough to merely promise a product that will do what you say it will. Your product or service needs to change the world, even if only in a small way.

The Tattered Cover Bookstore out of Denver sold books at the event, and New Belgium Brewing Co. provided beer.

A-Train Marketing Adds Simone Cordery-Cotter To Growing Team

photo: Patrick Edmiston

photo: Patrick Edmiston

A-Train Marketing is filling out their new offices by welcoming Simone Cordery-Cotter to the team. Simone will begin as an Account Coordinator and A-Train’s in-house Copywriter. In her dual role, Simone will oversee the day-to-day management of client accounts and coordinate production, while helping develop large concept ideas for creative work and marketing content produced by A-Train.

Simone joins A-Train from V3 Media Marketing, where she held the position of Assistant Producer. There, she served as the in-house video production coordinator while helping clients produce and develop strategic distribution plans for their video marketing content. She also specialized in social media and content marketing for V3.

With a diverse background in environmental history and documentary filmmaking, Simone is excited to take on new challenges presented by working at a high-paced full-service firm like A-Train. “I truly admire Gretchen and Ryan, and the work they do in the community,” explains Simone. “I’m very fortunate to become a part of such an excellent company, especially right as they are expanding.”

“We are very excited to add Simone to our growing team,” explains Gretchen Gaede, President at A-Train Marketing. “Her experience managing complex projects will help us better serve our clients and continue to deliver great work, on time and on budget. In addition, her copywriting and social media skills will allow her to quickly plug into existing production needs, and her video production background will allow us to continue to expand our capabilities in an area that we’ve been growing significantly over the past few years.”

A-Train Continues Expansion

offices in a-train's new expansionAfter celebrating its 15-year anniversary in October of 2013, A-Train Marketing has relocated to a new office in the Key Bank tower at 125 S. Howes St. The expansion provides the company with 60 percent more space to accommodate the new hires planned for the next several months, and to help the company continue to increase the scale of its product offerings. The company plans to expand its team by 25-35% in the next year, and the new office offers the opportunity to more than double its staff size in the next few years.

“Even after expanding our footprint at our previous space a few years ago, we were simply out of room to grow,” explains CEO Ryan Keiffer. “But the move has also allowed us to better design our space for greater creative collaboration. We anticipate that our already tightly knit team and culture will only get stronger, and that our work and the results we achieve for our clients will continue to improve.”

The move also gives A-Train the room to increase the scale of their product offerings. The company currently offers branding, messaging, marketing strategy, graphic design, web and digital, social media, video, and advertising services across a diverse range of industries including agriculture, biopharma, environmental services, mental health, non-profit, B2C, and more. “We’re very excited,” says President Gretchen Gaede. “The new office is invigorating, and we can expand our ability to attract and retain great clients and talent, which will set the foundation for continued growth and success.”

In addition to the more collaborative environment, the space also furnishes the company with something that was missing in their previous digs – a view of the mountains. “Our new conference room has expansive west-facing windows that provide inspiring mountains views of the Northern Front Range,” elaborates Gaede. “That’s something we missed in the old space, and we’re really glad to have it here.”

A-Train's inspiring mountain view of the Northern Front Range