Is Your Brand Inclusive? Check out these inclusive marketing practices

Is Your Brand Inclusive? Check out these inclusive marketing practices

Lately, inclusion and diversity are words that resonate loudly. There is a widespread conscience of the importance of reaching and including under-represented groups in companies, media and Internet content. How can you tap on this opportunity and ensure you provide interesting content that reaches to all relevant audiences? This article gives you a primer into inclusive marketing practices and a diversity calendar that help you mark relevant dates and plan your marketing accordingly. 

Why Is It Important to Create Inclusive and Diverse Content?

You know your demographic, your target audience. You know their generic pain points and their needs. However, profiling the audience, creating marketing personas, can be tricky since we live more and more in multicultural environments. Chances are that your audience is diverse, physically, psychologically, and geographically.  Moreover, your audiences want to see more than one type of consumer or voice in your content and media. 

A 2019 survey showed that 62% of respondents said that a brand’s perceived diversity or lack of it impacts their sentiment towards their products or services. This percentage was even higher for some demographics, such as millennials, BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) and the LGBTQ community, reaching up to 85%. The reality is that societies are multicultural, and people are connected in diverse, heterogeneous groups. 

The key is helping your audience recognize themselves in your brand and content. If they don’t, they will look somewhere else for representation. Some industries, such as the fashion industry, have started to change. The growth in fashion blogging, and the boom of fashion influencers in social media, showed the real customers. Now you can see top fashion retailers websites such as Next and Zara, with models from every race, size, and ethnicity. 

Consumers want to see people that look like them using your product or service, and when they do, they are more likely to buy and engage with your content. Therefore, when your company adopts an inclusive approach, it can gain a competitive edge in your market. 

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The Challenge for Diversity in Publishing and Advertising  

One of the key topics when talking about diversity and inclusion is the role of the publishing industry and advertising agencies on the change for diversity. Recently an open letter by 600 Black agency employees called for more representation in advertising agencies in staff and leadership. 

Change takes time, and many top agencies signed onto the new initiative #CommitToChange and publicly disclosed diversity data and their commitment to a more diverse workforce. Because the truth is, a more diverse staff and executives helps create messages that are really connected with the intended audiences. 

Diversity and Inclusion Are Not the Same

Diversity means the demographics of your team and your audience. Factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability, and geography can mark an audience you didn’t take into account until now. You should question if there are audiences that might be interested in your product or service that are not represented in your marketing campaigns? If your answer is yes, it is time to improve. 

Inclusion is how your company creates content and addresses diversity in its business practices and marketing actions. Salesforce is a great example. Not only they keep inclusive hiring practices, with almost half of their workforce made up of under-represented groups, but they reinforce the message in their learning system. They require developers to abide by principles of inclusive marketing – creating content that resonates with people of diverse backgrounds and characteristics. 

How to Achieve Diversity and Inclusion in your Marketing

So how can ensure you use inclusive marketing practices to reach diverse audiences? Here are some tips. 

Tip #1 -Research Your Audience

Know who may be interested in your product and content even when they are not your typical marketing persona. Go deeper into your data beyond gender, income level, geography, and race, trying to understand factors that don’t usually appear in marketing research such as physical ability. When you create your marketing personas, try to be as varied as possible, reflecting different characteristics of your audience. A way of getting information is to conduct surveys, conduct focus groups to get the sentiment of customers towards your company, becoming an involved brand. 

Tip #2 -Diversity Begins at Home: Look at Your Team

If your company and marketing team do not reflect the diversity of your audience it can be hard for them to connect with your intended customer. When you hire new team members, freelancers or agencies, think about including that voice that your team is lacking. The less distance there is culturally between your team and the market, the more you will reach it. 

Adopting an inclusive culture can boost your business too. According to a Deloitte report, an inclusive culture in your company can improve your innovation, drive growth, and exceed financial goals. 

Tip #3 -Edit Your Content for Inclusion 

Start with the tone. Ensure the tone reflects inclusion, avoiding assumptions. Avoid the use of slang that can be misinterpreted. The Associated Press Style Guide has a whole section about writing about race-related topics. It is important also to use inclusive language when covering disabilities, ensuring you use the proper terms and words on physical, mental, and cognitive disabilities. 

Be careful when using pronouns, using gender-neutral pronouns in your content is best. When in doubt, ask. Try not to use “he” or “she”, instead use “they”. 

Tip #4 -Pay Attention to Your Media and Artwork

The stock photos, media, artwork, and videos used on your website and marketing materials should include a variety of individuals in diverse situations. For example, you want to use an image of female coworkers for a post or ad: 

Diversity

This is a good example of a picture that includes coworkers of different races/ethnicities and ages. However, beware of stereotypes and cultural appropriation. Remember to depict people in a variety of situations regarding gender, race, and physical ability. 

What’s Next?

Knowing where your company is at is a great first step to assess your inclusion culture. Then, you can plan your marketing actions around diverse audiences. A useful tool to plan your content and marketing campaigns is to have a diversity calendar so you can tap the opportunity of relevant dates and create awareness on diversity topics, engaging your audience to your brand. 

 

How to Engage Users on Your Blog

User engagement is essential to your marketing success. Without it, you’re just yelling into a wind tunnel.

People need to care about what you’re saying, and they need to feel like they are part of the conversation. When they do, they will enthusiastically spread the word about your brand and what you have to offer. When they don’t, they just won’t come to your site anymore.

Out of just about all types of marketing collateral, many brands find blogs to be the most challenging for getting user engagement. Even brands that get a good readership going can have a hard time getting users to comment or to actively seek out other content on the site.

A lot of times, you may wonder if anyone is reading at all.

Here are a few things you can do to engage users on your blog and build a more thriving community around it:

Don’t be Afraid of Controversy

So many brands make the mistake of being overly formal, which ends up being overly bland.

Companies don’t want to take a stand on an issue because they don’t want to alienate any of their customers.

Well, you can’t please everyone, but if you do come out strong on the side of an issue, you can get people passionate about what you’re saying and you can inspire loyalty.

Don’t be afraid to have an opinion and to share it with your audience. Come out strongly on one side of a controversial issue and write clearly and powerfully about your views.

Just don’t write about controversy just to get attention. Your readers will be able to see through it.

And don’t get caught up in writing about controversy all the time or your blog will become a source of drama.

Choose the topics that you feel most passionately about, and write about your views in a way that stays true to your brand’s values. Evaluate carefully when a topic might be too controversial for your brand and whether the potential benefits and consequences of writing about it.

Write from the Heart

If people don’t feel anything when they read your posts, they aren’t going to respond.

What’s the best way to get someone to feel something about what you’re writing? To write from a place of emotion yourself. If you don’t feel anything about what you’re writing, why would your audience?

If you don’t feel comfortable writing about your personal feelings, you can at least include emotional appeals in your writing. For example, you can share heart-wrenching stories or use hypothetical examples that invite readers to imagine how they would feel in the scenario.

The language you use can also set the tone. You don’t have to be inflammatory to elicit emotion, but you should use more charged language than you would in, say, a white paper.

Solicit Feedback

Don’t treat your blog posts like lectures. End them with questions or comments encouraging readers to give you feedback.

You might ask a simple question like, “What do you think of x?” Or you might ask readers to share their experiences with the topic you’ve written about, such as when they had a similar problem or what solutions they found to be helpful.

The point is to always have a call to action at the end of the blog post that encourages your readers to get involved. You want to let them know that their feedback is valued and their voices will be heard.

You may start to feel like a broken record always asking readers to share their thoughts, but eventually, you’ll start to get comments and it will feel more like a conversation than a writing exercise.

Reply to Comments

A lot of bloggers treat comments as little compliments. They see any reaction as a boost to their own ego, showing that people have not only been reading but that they care enough to respond.

While it might feel good to you to get a comment, it certainly doesn’t feel good to your readers to have those comments go ignored.

Show your readers that you care about more than your blog stats by actually replying to all the comments. You can follow up on something they said, ask questions, or take the conversation in a new direction.

When you feel like you have nothing else to say, a simple, “Thank you!” or “That’s a great point” will go a long way to making readers feel valued and encouraging them to continue participating.

User engagement is vital to the success of your brand’s marketing. Use these tips to help you get more engagement on your blog and encourage customer loyalty.

When your users feel more engaged with your blog, they will be more likely to return to it and to share your content on their own social networks and other channels. You’ll get more exposure and your marketing will be more successful.

The Difference between User Engagement and User Experience

In your research on website design and online marketing, you will hear a lot about user engagement.

Increasing your user engagement is a way to encourage customer loyalty and to get more sales and brand exposure. The higher your customer engagement, the more successful your company is likely to be.

A lot of people who talk about user engagement equate it to the user experience, which is often a result of the website design. Yet user experience is NOT the same as user engagement.

Here’s what you need to know about the difference between user engagement and user experience and how the two affect your brand’s success:

User Experience

User experience encompasses a lot of the way you feel when you visit a site.

Do you find the site easy to use? Does the site seem fun and attractive? Do you find the site to be useful?

All of these elements are part of your user experience.

The user experience includes design elements and content. Typically, user experience includes four categories: Utility, usability, appeal and engagement.

Utility refers to how useful the site is. Does it have content that answers your questions? Does it provide value to you in some way? Then it has utility.

Usability refers to the ease of navigation on the site. Are you having a hard time finding the information that you need? Are you able to add items to your cart easily? A site with good usability should have easy navigation, and all the elements should be easy to use and should work the way they are intended.

Appeal refers to the look of the site. Is the design aesthetically pleasing? Is it free of annoying ads and pop-ups? If so, the site has good appeal and contributes to a positive user experience.

User engagement is part of the user experience, but it is not the same as the user experience. If the site offers a good user experience, it also engages the user.

User Engagement

Here’s an easy way to think about the difference between user experience and user engagement:

You may buy a lot of books from the bookstore (your experience), but do you actually read them (your engagement)?

You may attend a free class at the gym and sign up for a membership, but do you actually go after that initial introduction?

You may watch a lot of videos on a site, but do you ever comment on them or share them on your social media?

User engagement represents the purposeful choices you make with the content you see on a site. Engagement is how people get value from the user experience on the site.

Marketers can understand user engagement as the junction between getting a person’s attention and inspiring them to take action. The more engaged a user is, the more likely they are to return to the site and then to become ambassadors for your brand.

You can measure engagement in many ways. Some of the best ways are to look at how many of your visitors are return visitors and to look at how long they are staying on your site. The more return visitors you have and the longer people are staying on your site, the better the job you are doing at engaging your users.

On social media, user engagement can be measured in terms of likes, comments, shares and retweets.

If you are not getting the engagement you want, you can try out different types of content, different headline types, and different writing styles. Continue testing different strategies until you find methods that land.

If you run an ecommerce site, you’ll have to look at different metrics to measure user engagement. Specifically, you’ll want to look at conversion to purchase rates and CTA success percentages.

Using the Right Tools

Many tools are available to help you improve both the user experience of your site and the user engagement on it. Finding and using the right tools is key to your success.

CodeFuel offers tools to help increase user engagement by placing content on multiple platforms that have a strong focus on positive user experience. Users tend to stay on the site longer and explore more pages, which encourages them to connect with the brand. If you sell advertising on your site, the platform will help you to increase your revenue.

Other tools are available to help you increase the user experience on your site, such as apps that perform a site evaluation to determine slow-loading elements of your site or that let you know if aspects of your site architecture are missing. You can use tools that help you improve the navigation, optimize your images, and more.

Use all the tools at your disposal to improve your user experience and user engagement and start meeting your goals this year.

Why Every Business Needs to Know How to Measure Customer Engagement

Every business needs to know how to measure customer engagement.

Regardless of your industry or the size of your business, customer engagement will impact your bottom line. Any business with an online presence – even if it’s simply a Facebook Page – will need to know what it is and how to measure it.

As we’ve discussed elsewhere on the blog, customer engagement refers to how your users or customers interact with your brand, product, or service. Typically, engaged users are those who interact positively. Disengaged customers are those who don’t interact at all.

Why Customer Engagement Matters

Customer engagement is vital for the success of any company and the proof is in the numbers:

The definition of an engaged customer versus a disengaged customer will typically vary, depending on your business and your products.

Where Customers Engage with Your Brand

Some companies may feel that engagement doesn’t matter.

A company that produces physical products may not feel that engagement is a factor. However, in today’s digital world, every brand must interact with and engage customers to a certain extent.

Here are a few of the major places where customer engagement matters:

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most important marketing tools in any business’s toolbox. It is a primary component to any marketing funnel and represents one of the most important interfaces for customer engagement.

A major function of a content marketing program is to acquire customers by engaging them. Analysis of a campaign’s effectiveness will also increase insight into those customers needs, wants, and motivations.

Apps

App developers are well aware that app monetization depends almost entirely on customer engagement.

Users who don’t engage with an app won’t increase profits. When apps fail to engage, users don’t click on adds, download in-app purchases, promote the app to their friends, and so on.

Ideal app engagement scenarios vary from app to app and vertical to vertical. However, whether your usage times average at 3 minutes or at 30, engagement is the most important metric for your bottom line.

Websites

As with apps, websites’ engagement scenarios depend on the function of the site, the vertical, its monetization model, and so on.

A content-rich website most likely earns income via advertising, affiliate marketing, and so on. These sites depend heavily on user engagement – users who aren’t on a site can’t click on the money-making hyperlinks. Positive customer engagement for these types of sites would be based on frequency and duration of site visits.

A simple landing page site, however, would probably correlate engagement and conversions quite closely. Return rates, however, would be much less important.

Social Media

Social media is one of the most important engagement interfaces between customers and businesses.

Even the smallest, most local businesses use social media to communicate to prospects, existing customers, and the media. Social media engagement is one indicator of customer engagement. The bigger the role that social media plays in your customer relations, the more pivotal its role in customer engagement.

How to Measure Customer Engagement

To measure customer engagement and user engagement, decide which interactions are critical to your business model. These interactions are then turned into key performance indicators (KPIs), or metrics.

A content-rich website, for instance, would focus on metrics such as the number of page views, the time spent on site, how often users return to a site, and so on. App developers would focus on the number of downloads, time spent in app, how many users abandon the app, and so on.

For a more detailed discussion of engagement metrics, click here for 15 of the most important user engagement metrics.

In addition to picking out which metrics matter most, you will need to find the right tools to do the job. In many cases, it’s a good idea to examine both issues simultaneously – you won’t always know which metrics are available until you explore available tools.

To measure customer engagement, you will need analytics software.

There are plenty of tools and platforms available for measuring engagement across channels. The key is choosing the most effective, efficient tools to do the job.

Every marketing tool worth its salt will include its own analytics toolbox. But you may want to investigate independent analytics platforms. These robust tools dive deep into data and add new layers of insight to other platforms.

 

In today’s world, customers spend more and more time interfacing and interacting online. Brands must be able to meet and engage with those customers. And, in order to maximize profits and customer retention rates, businesses will need to know how to measure customer engagement.

How B2B Marketers can Increase Demand Generation

As a business-to-business marketer, you can’t rely on the same tools that other marketers use. Your clients are more knowledgeable about those practices, and they have higher stakes for the use of your products or services.

You need to create a campaign that focuses on the specific value that you provide clients, and you need to build your authority at the same time.

Demand generation is a way to do both.

With demand generation, you create buzz around your products and services by highlighting their features and highlighting what you have to offer as a company.

Here are a few things that B2B marketers can do to increase demand generation:

Attend Trade Shows

Though online marketing plays a huge role in how businesses connect with customers, it cannot be the only way that you connect with customers. In fact, there is little else that is more effective than the in-person connection.

Attending trade shows lets you quickly build buzz for your products and services and create authority for your brand. Send your best people to the show and create the best presentation you can, including the decoration of your booth and the samples you offer.

Above all, be prepared. Have plenty of information ready about your products and services. Bring pamphlets or brochures you can hand out with your business cards to people who stop by your booth. Include samples of your products or package information about your services. Have references ready.

Businesses regularly attend trade shows to find new vendors. Make sure you are attending the most important trade shows in your industry.

Make Videos

Video is quickly trumping written content in its ability to reach clients — and that includes both individual and business consumers.

Most business owners or leaders do not have the time to read article after article, but they usually have time to watch a quick video. In fact, many prefer it. Watching is a more passive activity than reading, and watching a video does not seem as mentally taxing in an already demanding day.

Create short yet engaging videos that explain the benefits of your products and services. Show how they meet your clients’ needs and solve a problem.

Keep the videos to under a minute or two, and use creative strategies to grab users’ attention.

Don’t be afraid to make videos that aren’t directly promoting your products or services. Part of demand generation is establishing your authority and reputation, so you can also create fun videos that create buzz and show off your brand values.

Engage in Referral Marketing

Referrals help drive demand. You cannot underestimate the importance of getting more referrals from your current clients.

You can start getting more referrals simply by asking for them. The best time to ask for referrals is after you have had a successful transaction, such as when you’ve completed a sale or received a great review.

You can also provide incentives for providing referrals, such as offering a discount for those who do.

Amplify Email Marketing

Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective ways to reach customers.

The right email marketing can convert potential customers and re-engage old customers.

Use your email marketing to grow your leads and increase your exposure. Create an email marketing campaign that not only promotes your products but also highlights your brand values and authority.

Your email marketing should be more targeted because you are talking to people who have already shown an interest in your product. You don’t have to get their attention since you already have it. But you do have to generate their excitement to encourage them to buy and to make referrals.

Distribute Content across Multiple Channels

Demand generation is all about creating buzz, and the best way to do that is to get as much exposure as possible.

While you want to eventually get leads, the main goal is not generating leads. Rather, it is to change or shape your audience’s perception of your brand and your products. You do that by taking control of your reputation.

Create a campaign that incorporates as many distribution channels as possible, including blogs, email, social media, video, and more.

Use predictive modeling to discover how your audience is likely to act on these channels, and you can include lead generation strategies along with your demand generation.

Include numerous opportunities for clients to contact you, such as through a contact form or a link that says “learn more here” that leads to your email. These are not like lead generation strategies that require emails in exchange for a specific piece of content, like an ebook, so these forms are better at getting leads that will want to hear more from you.

Use CodeFuel’s numerous tools to help you get more exposure for your content and your brand to enhance demand generation strategy.

Effective Ways to Engage Your Community

The strength of your community is critical to the strength of your business. A strong community will produce loyal customers and will help create awareness for your brand.

Learning how to engage your users will help you strengthen your community and drive traffic and sales.

Here are a few effective things you can do to engage your community:

Identify a Real Need

You may need to get more customers and make more sales, but that’s not what your customers care about or need.

You need to identify a real need for your customers by asking yourself questions like, “What goals do my customers have?” or “What concerns do they have?”

You then need to offer information or solutions that address these needs. That’s a basic rule for a successful business, but it’s also what you need to do to build and engage your community. You may need to create articles, tutorials, videos, or even online courses that address these needs.

Fresh content and offerings are needed to continually re-engage the members of your community.

Listen

One of the easiest ways to find out what your community needs is to just listen.

Instead of trying to manage the conversation happening on your blog and social networks, sit back and find out what you can learn from the dialogue. What are your customers talking about? What do they seem to get excited about? What are they upset about? What are they saying that they want?

Don’t pass off idle chatter or venting. They both provide opportunities to better understand your community and what they need.

Put Time into the Relationship

Think of your customers like you would your friends and family. You can’t take the relationship for granted — you have to put time into to make it strong and healthy.

Relationships are about give and take. You are essentially taking by promoting sales of your products and services. You are getting something you need. You then need to find ways to give back.

Not only should you be finding ways to address their needs and make it clear to them that you are listening, but you should also find ways to help them celebrate. You can do things like send coupons or discount codes on their birthdays or customer anniversaries. You can provide special, members-only content, and you can publicly recognize members who are making special contributions.

Offer Face-to-Face Time

One of the easiest ways to engage and strengthen the relationship is to spend one-on-one time.

Of course, it’s a little difficult to meet with your customers face-to-face when you are operating an online marketing campaign. However, you can create opportunities with online meetings, webinars, and even Skype calls.

It is also prudent to implement traditional marketing techniques for an integrated campaign. These can include community events, attendance at trade shows and festivals, and even in-person seminars and workshops.

Even a basic meet-and-greet can have a big impact. If customers have the opportunity to put a face to a name, they will feel more connected and will be more engaged.

Offer New Venues

Think beyond your blog and social networks when engaging with your community.

Create new venues in which customers can engage with each other and your brand, such as a dedicated forum or chat room. You can also create private groups on social media that are only accessible to your community.

These venues are not only valuable resources for your community, but they also give members the chance to get to know each other better and feel more engagement around your brand.

You can also participate in these venues as a member, allowing you to get better feedback and to actively work on maintaining your relationships with your community.

Turn Members into Ambassadors

Your community is your best source of advertising.

Find was to turn your members into ambassadors to not only make them feel more engaged but to also get free exposure for your brand. An easy way to get community members to be ambassadors is to host contests and giveaways and ask them to share links in order to get more entries.

You can also make customers ambassadors by hosting a forum and asking volunteers to be moderators. They will feel committed to the mission of the brand and the forum and will share their passion with others.

The more engaged your community feels, the more they will promote your brand totally on their own. The best advertising they can give you is their referral. Make it easy for them to give it by giving them great service and great products.

An engaged community is a powerful tool for your brand, but it takes time to build. You need to think about the needs of your community and how to naturally encourage their passion for your brand. The rest will take care of itself.