[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It may seem odd that we are blogging about blogs, but we just want to articulate how integral of a piece they are to your company’s puzzle.

When blogging began to push full-steam ahead in the communication world during the late 1990s, people were initially using it to provide a unique way to share their opinions, thoughts, feelings and experiences with others.

Well, that’s exactly what blogs still do to this day! Except now, companies are getting smart and utilizing blogs to bolster their business by increasing their digital presence.

In 2012, HubSpot, a marketing software company, conducted a survey that showed businesses that don’t blog are considered to be the minority. From 2009 to 2011 the percentage of businesses with blogs grew from 48% to 65% which illustrates just how important and prevalent blogs are in the business world.



So, why exactly is having a company blog so important for a business? Let’s take a look at a few key points that we hope will clearly explain just how important a blog is to your business.

Voice- Whether your voice is formal or informal, the rule of thumb is to keep your blog posts aligned with your product type and audience. Be sure to always write your blog in a conversational style; after all, you are talking directly to your reader. Always remember to keep your audience’s needs at the forefront of your blog, to form relationships with new customers and to nurture existing relationships.

Let your presence be known– Your online presence is crucial to the success of not only your blog, but also your company as well. When your presence flourishes, you will then be able to establish higher quality inbound links that will in turn improve your website SEO and traffic. In short, making your presence known is like walking into a party and screaming, “I’m here!”; people will hear you loud and clear, plus, who doesn’t want to be the life of the party? So, it’s a good idea to translate those vibes into your posts and let your presence be known in the world of blogs.

Trust building- A stark website alone can raise the eyebrows of consumers to question a company’s credibility. But, incorporating a blog to your website can work to solidify your credibility. It will allow you to expand on important topics in the industry, and expand on how your company is involved. Whether it’s a quick link, a short post, or maybe even a picture, correlating information with your industry and your company is a great way to solidify trust between you and the consumers. Keep in mind; months of trust building can be thrown away with a single blog post. Remember to always be honest and accurate with your blog content. In the end, “honesty is the best policy,” and this age-old saying continues to ring true.

More than just a company- Blogging has the potential to humanize your company, making it more than just a business. Just as we said before, it’s all about your voice and your delivery. If you want to connect with people through a blog, make your blog feel like it is written by a person and not a robot. After all, people do not respond as well to what seems to be robotic or automated messages.

Out with the old in with the new- Relinquish those tendencies of filling your blog with corporate jargon, and consider infusing content that relate to people. If you not only center your social media efforts, but also your blog efforts as well on building relationships with your audience and providing them with interesting content, they will likely keep coming back for more.

Creating a solid blog that’s filled with interesting and relevant content is reminiscent of a great pie where people will keep coming back for seconds, thirds and so on and so forth. In short, make people crave your blog content, and serve it up with a healthy side of creativity.

Happy blogging everyone!

Maria Londino is the Assistant Account Executive at Flying Cork.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

With Christmas finally here, our traditions are in full swing. The children prepare for the arrival of Santa Claus. The lights on the house and yard must be lit for Santa to find the house. Milk, cookies, and carrots are left for Santa Claus and his reindeer. A Christmas tree is in the house decorated with care. The Nativity is found beneath with a manger and Jesus. While these might seem like regular traditions for us in America, in other countries it’s a bit different.


In Spain, on January 6th, children leave shoes outside filled with hay and food for camels. The Wise men come through the city and replace the hay and food with toys.

In Yugoslavia, a cake called the Chestnisa is filled with silver and gold coins. It is said that whoever receives a coin in his/her slice will have good luck for the next year.

For France, a Christmas tree is not popular to use. On Christmas Eve, shoes are left by the fireplace for Pere Noel to fill with toys. On Christmas evening, before retiring to bed, families keep the fire glowing, and leave food and drink on the table in case the Virgin Mary arrives.

Poland’s Christmas Eve consists of pouring bees wax or plain wax over water. Fortunes are told from the shape of the wax. The Polish also bake bread and press it with a holy picture on the surface. As each person shares the bread, they must do two things: forgive any hurts that have occurred over the past year; to wish the person all the happiness in the upcoming year.

The tradition in Italy is for an old witch named La Befana to arrive on her broomstick to bring children presents. She arrives on January 5th through the chimney. Wine and food are left for her in lieu of milk and cookies.


This time of year calls for many celebrations no matter how they are performed. It is a season of families, and the long held traditions we continue to pass on to future generations. So joyeux noel, buone feste natalizie, boze narodzenie, and Merry Christmas.

As the holidays are approaching our agency wanted to send some fun your way! We came up with a New Year’s Eve Quiz that can tell you your personality by clicking through random photos. At the end, your personality is revealed and recommendations are provided to help plan your night. I decided to put together the results from our office. Here they are:


New_Years_Quiz_Results.jpg

Over the five different personality types we were shocked to see that the majority were either homebodies or romantics. We for sure thought that we would have had some adventurers and class acts.

The few who were the “Life of the Party” either thought that the quiz got it 100% right, but were shocked there were not more party animals in the office. Joe, one of our designers had stated that maybe once you get older the boring life style comes with it and you take up the personality of a homebody.

The romantics stated that they wished there were better or different food options (such as for vegetarians.)

While getting the results in I was shocked to see the low numbers in “life of the party”, “class act,” and “adventurer categories”. Working in a digital agency people are fun, creative, and the life of the party at work, however maybe once the clock hits 5 p.m. all changes!

Hopefully, this quiz helped you pinpoint just who exactly you are and was helpful in your decision making of what to do to bring in 2014!

Comment below with some of your 2014 Resolutions or reflect on this past year using one word!

Lauren Sauter is the Interactive Account Executive at Flying Cork.

Advertising is a broad term. When I tell people that I work for an ad agency, many times I get the response: “So, you’re like Don Draper from Mad Men?”. The answer I usually give is “No. I’m not that well-dressed, I’m happily married, and I just can’t drink that much, anymore”. While I typically use this response simply to get a cheap laugh (sometimes), it’s really not the main reason that Mr. Draper and I don’t share much in common. The real reason? Advertising just isn’t what it used to be. I watch Mad Men faithfully, and one of the things I enjoy is watching Don pitch his clients on archaic ideas and concepts that would never work today. Advertising and best practices has completely changed. Not just since the Don Draper heyday, but even over just the past few years.

Obviously, the Mad Men pitch is an extreme example of how advertising strategies change, because we’re talking about 55 year old campaigns. However, I can remember (not so long ago) that advertising channels such as banner ads and pop-up windows were considered cutting edge. Now, you rarely hear about any brand’s long-term strategy including ‘banner ad media buys’. So, what happened over such a short amount of time that killed off so many forms of marketing? Smarter consumers.

Consumers have been bombarded with so many banner, video, and pop-up ads that they’re immune, even annoyed, when subjected to them. As customers get wise to these forms of ads, they begin to decline in effectiveness and spur the need for new tactics and new methods that boast higher engagement and better conversions; hence the increase in marketing innovation and the emergence of native advertising. Instead of creating ads that simply ‘piggyback’ the site’s content, your ad should add value or relevancy and become part of the article or video. Don’t interrupt the customer experience, enhance it.

As the internet becomes a part of our everyday lives more and more each day, today’s consumers are given an extraordinary amount of power to inform themselves and research all of their purchasing decisions. We’re no longer required to believe the commercial we saw on television or the full page spread we found in a magazine. We can research these products ourselves, and make our own, well-informed decisions. For this reason, modern day agencies are forced to think very carefully about their marketing and media buying decisions to get the most out of their efforts, and their clients’ dollar.


What’s the moral of the story? Choose your agency carefully. In this digital age, the weather is changing every day, and you need a partner that knows which way the wind is blowing. Ask questions about strategy, execution, and measurable results. Look for things like transparency, and ask for project updates. Remember that your reputation is on the line. Looking for Don Draper? I’ve got nothing for you. Looking to build a brand? Pop the cork…

Mike Perri is the Digital Account Executive at Flying Cork.

When I am meeting with someone about email marketing and they refer to their campaigns as “eblasts,” I cringe. An eblast is messaging shot across cyberspace, hopefully ending up in the right recipient’s inbox, giving them the information they need to know about a company to make a purchasing decision. If this sounds too good to be true, it is. Successful email marketing campaigns need to be well thought-out and based on techniques such as List Building, Segmentation, Content Strategy, Design and Analytics.

List Building

List building is crucial to any successful email campaign. If a consumer has not expressed interest in hearing from your company, they will not be receptive to your messaging. To build an email list, create a landing page containing a lead form to collect email addresses and any other information that could help you to create a targeted message. Let the recipient know exactly what you will be sending (i.e., newsletter, product information, offers, etc.) and include links to the landing page on all of your owned, earned and paid media.

Segmentation

It is important to remember your targeted consumer receives email from many other businesses and organizations. Developing content relevant to each of your target audiences will give you the best chance for engagement. For instance, if your company sells pet products and someone visited your website and purchased toys specifically made for puppies, you would not want to send emails to this person promoting cat toys. In this situation, you could use your lead form to solicit specific information about what type of pet your consumer has, and send information that will interest them.

Content Strategy

Content strategy is important for two reasons: content should entice people to open your email and take an intended action, and help to ensure your email does not end up in a spam folder. Consider the following as you develop your strategy:

  • Your target audience, how much they already know, what they expect and what they need to know to choose you over a competitor
  • What your goals are and how you will measure them
  • How often you will send emails

Design

Email design has never been more important than it is today. Statistics show that 44% of email is opened on a mobile device, so responsive design techniques must be employed to capture an increasing number of consumers. Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Incorporate ‘Read More’ functionality in lieu of overloading emails with content
  • Use alt text and title text in your emails to ensure your message is still communicated when images are not displayed. Certain ISPs (Internet Service Providers) such as Gmail and Outlook do not automatically render images.
  • Test your emails prior to deployment. Services such as Litmus enable you to see exactly how your emails will render in most ISPs

Analytics

Improve your email campaign effectiveness by tracking how well individual emails perform and make changes based on that data. It is a good idea to A/B test subject lines and content often. Also, look at open rates and click-through rates, and monitor what content within your email your target audience is engaging with most.

Industry benchmarks for email show an average unique open rate of around 17%, a gross open rate of around 27%, a click-through rate of around 2.3% and an unsubscribe rate of around 0.17%. If your email campaigns are not coming close to those benchmarks, try segmenting your list, A/B testing subject lines, revising copy, modifying design and changing the call-to-action.

Lauren Goncar is the Senior Director of Digital Media at Flying Cork.

We have all seen the stats on display advertising, like you are more likely to birth twins or survive a plane crash than to click on a banner ad. Though these stats may be statistically accurate, at the end of the day, we all know display advertising is a numbers game. The amount of reach banner ads provide at relatively low costs often justifies the investment into this realm of advertising.

If you are like me, when you first heard of programmatic ad buying or real-time bidding (RTB) platforms you thought it was just a new way to sell display advertising. And like me you couldn’t have been more wrong. In today’s world, marketers are faced with a seemingly unlimited amount of inventory for limited ad dollars that span regions and demographic profiles and access sites through many different devices. Add to the mix A/B testing of creative and landing pages and you have data that spans 100,000s of sites. It becomes difficult to get any real gauge of what is working and where. This is the problem programmatic ad buying will resolve.

Programmatic ad buying platforms use conversion and demographic data and test your creative in real- time across devices whether they be online display, Facebook Exchange ads, mobile or video ads. The platform then takes your creative assets, while keeping conversion goals in mind, and serves it to audiences across the web that best match the demographic profile most likely to convert on your targeted landing pages.

This all sounds awesome so what’s the downside?

Glad you asked! The risk is that it takes time to build up enough data to start making intelligent decisions on your ad spend. Most of the platforms we have talked about have a minimum buy-in of $10,000 – $20,000 for a 4-8 week tests. During this time, the platforms algorithm is building up intelligence and data and will not be operating at 100% efficiency.

Risk can be mitigated by using tested proven creative and landing pages while slowly introducing new creative assets. Also providing demographic and regional settings prior to going live can help these platforms identify the best places to start serving your ads. Preliminary data can be compiled by placing pixels 3-4 weeks prior to launch to help these platforms gain insights about your visitors and more importantly the demographic profile of your conversions. Lastly, when finalizing the contract ensure there is a 24-hour out clause so you can stop advertising efforts in case the spend is not converting at a reasonable rate.

Sounds great? Let’s get started!

Dan Monarko is the Director of Digital Media at Flying Cork.

There are several articles on your LinkedIn feed about it. Forbes is talking about why you need it. Maybe your leadership team is even requesting one for 2014. What is it?

A content strategy.

But just what is it, and how will it benefit your business? I’ll answer these questions by hearkening back to the age-old journalistic five W’s.


What is content strategy?

Content strategy is about consistently delivering engaging, relevant information – whether written, audio, video or a combination of all of these. It’s about building trust and a rapport with your audience as they come to respect you as an expert in your field.

Eventually, your site may become a go-to for them, no searching necessary. When they want to know about something, they come straight to you.

Who is my content strategy for?

Often, companies take too broad a brush to their target audience: “This is for everyone who will visit our site!” But it’s not. As we’re known to say here at Flying Cork, we don’t create a site for everyone, we create a site for one person – your user.

Chances are there are four or five main types of people who will visit your site. Define their demographic, psychographic and lifestyle profiles. Why are they interested in your industry overall, and your brand, specifically? Then focus on the messages that will resonate with them.

Where do I post my content?

An ideal place for content to live is on your website. Create a regularly updated company blog and feature it prominently in your site’s navigation. As a bonus, when users are there to read what you’ve posted, they’re in the prime position to explore the rest of your site to learn more about what you do.

Once you’ve created your blog, share and share alike. Post a 50,000-foot overview of your blog post across your social media profiles, with a link to read the full article, and invite your fans and followers to engage with the story. But don’t forget, engagement is a two-way street. It’s not enough just to push content out. Actively monitor the comments, and contribute when discussions are sparked.

When do I update my content strategy?

The short answer: constantly.

By monitoring metrics on your content, you can determine what’s resonating and what’s falling flat. You can then tailor your strategy accordingly. Remember that agility is key. Carving an editorial calendar in stone six months in advance doesn’t allow you to react to what’s exciting your audience, or to important industry news.

Unsure if you’ll have the expertise to write insightful commentary on new topics that come up? Ask your in-house experts to contribute! Give them opportunity to talk about what they do every day. They love it, they live it, they breathe it, and that will all come through in their words (Just be willing to do a little clean-up to ensure that the blog posts maintain a consistent voice and are free of grammatical errors).

Why do I need to do this again?

I could give you a litany of reasons; linking to articles all over the internet and citing how content plays a critical role in SEO success. But in the end, it all comes down to one crucial point: Your audience wants relevant, engaging content. And if you’re not going to deliver it, someone else will.

So as you’re wrapping up 2013 and planning for 2014, refer back to these five tips for making next year the year you launch a content strategy.

Betsy Piasente is the Digital Account Supervisor at Flying Cork.

The decision to hire a digital advertising agency is a significant investment. It often requires a rigorous evaluation of a company’s business needs before entering into a new partnership. Most independent, traditional full-service advertising agencies (small and large) service many companies and claim they are well-equipped to support their clients on digital initiatives. Unfortunately, in reality, most of these agencies lack the ability to provide the digital strategy to market across disciplines such as search, social, and mobile.

Making the decision to select a digital partner has become a big question with many companies. With so many ad agencies in existence, companies need to carefully assess their immediate needs and determine which agency is the right fit for their company. Obviously, we know chemistry seals the deal with any partnership. But, there is an evaluation process that is key to selecting your digital agency partner. Consider these four steps the next time you are hiring an agency.

Step 1: Determine Your Need for a Digital Agency

As mentioned, selecting a digital agency is a significant investment and should be carefully assessed and evaluated. For example, determine if your digital programs are falling short on your return on investment. If you have hired an AOR, ask the question, does this one-stop shop have the capabilities to offer the best expertise in every digital channel. Also, consider your in-house resources to effectively manage these programs. In addition, determine the following:

  • What are your primary business objectives?
  • Should you use a full-service agency or do you need a specialty firm specific to your digital needs?
  • Who will manage the agency relationship?

Business culture and priorities should also be assessed before beginning the review process. Determine your internal priorities such as good creative, or detailed analytic reporting must-haves before targeting digital agencies. This will ensure that you are seeking out agencies with strong capabilities specific to your top priorities.

Step 2: Understand Compensation Models

When selecting an agency, there are a wide range of agency costing and budgeting options to consider. Understanding these models offers advantages and challenges. It varies by both type of agency and client engagement, and requirement and expectation. These models should be agreed upon by what is a practical, mutually beneficial, compensation mix. The chart below represents commonly used fee models and should be considered when selecting an agency.

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Also, make sure you have determined your budget range and plan to disclose with the agencies you may be considering. While price matters especially in today’s challenging economy, don’t make your decision exclusively by this factor. Do not try to squeeze the agency’s bottom-line unreasonably; this could result in downgrading the quality of talent on your business, and reduce service offerings. Pay the agency appropriately, and look to increase savings by possibly improving operational efficiencies. Remember, you are hiring an agency for their quality of work, so don’t let costs control the entire process.

Step 3. Begin the Selection Process

Yes, selecting an agency can be a daunting process. Some companies are forced to do RFP projects on a regular basis creating a significant amount of work for all parties involved. Don’t use the RFP to collect data, but instead collect knowledge. This review process should serve as a way to find which targeted agencies are most interested in your business, and align with your culture.

Consider opting out of the formal RFI/RFP process which usually includes inviting 15, 30 or even 50 agencies during the initial invitation. A general best practice is to invite no more than four agencies. Your initial “long” list of agencies should be short and focused. Also, consider looking at networking with your marketing peers to find out who their agencies partners are, and why they chose them. Reach out to those recommended agencies, and discuss your business needs. Keep in mind that the purpose of this will help by:

  • Allowing agencies to decline if this opportunity is not a good fit
  • Enabling you to develop a rapport with agency key contacts

Another option to consider, if you are struggling with determining which agencies to invite for the review, is to rely on trade associations such as the 4As. Also, you may want to hire a search consultant, who specializes in conducting account reviews, to provide advice.

4. Select the Right Agency

Once you’ve received your requested RFP responses, arrange for face-to-face presentations with each selected finalist. These presentations allow you to meet the core team that would be dedicated to your account if selected as your partner. During these meetings, consider quantitative and qualitative factors such as the following:

  • Agency Brand Reputation
  • Channel Specialist or Full-Service
  • Vertical Experience
  • Culture
  • Talent
  • Client References
  • Client Support
  • Pricing
  • Deliverables

With so many options available, it’s no wonder selecting a digital agency is a complicated process. Making a successful decision begins internally with assessing and evaluating your business, staffing, and technology needs. After this is determined, begin looking outward for agencies that align to your criteria. Ultimately, selecting an agency will be based on their core values, talent, and passion for your business. Choosing the right partner can begin a long and prosperous relationship.

Terri Deasy is the Vice President of Business Development at Flying Cork.

There have been quite a few changes to the Google Adwords certification program over the past few months. Google Partners has replaced the Google Certification Program (GCP). The transition includes improvements that will make it easier and more meaningful to become Adwords certified.

If you are just looking to pad your resume with a Google Adwords certification and have no interest in really learning about Adwords, dive into your favorite search engine. If you search the right way, you can find the answers to all three exams and easily pass in a few hours.

For those of you who are really looking to become an adwords expert, let me walk you through the process of doing this the right way.


To take the exam for free, you need to sign up for Google Partners as an individual. Search Engine Journal has a nice step by step How-To on this process.

  • It is very important that you read the study materials Google provides. This is the absolute best resource available to prepare you for the exams. Read everything, watch all of the videos, and take notes. If you have the time and patience, read it again. I have found this information to be very comprehensive, and if you put in the time here, you will have no problem at exam time.
  • Once you feel pretty confident with the study materials, find a practice test or two online. There are a number of paid resources out there that you can use to prepare for the exams; I haven’t used any so I can’t offer an opinion on them. Along with the paid ones, there are quite a few free ones available. I really like the way this one is set up.
  • You are given 120 minutes for each exam. You need to take the fundamentals exam first. It is 90 questions and you need a score of 85% to pass. In order to become certified, you need to pass either the Advanced Search or Advanced Display Exam. The Advanced Search exam is 99 questions and it requires a score of 80%. The Advanced Display exam is 90 questions and requires a score of 70%.
  • If you fail on your first try, don’t sweat it, there is a lot of information to wrap your head around. You’ll need to wait seven days, and then you can take it again. As far as I can tell, there is no limit to the amount of times you can take each test.
  • The exam no longer locks your screen, so if you run into trouble, you are able to look up answers. There is no way to stop the timer though, so only do this if it’s absolutely necessary.

Truly, to become an adwords expert, you really need to dive into a live adwords account, and get some hands on experience. If you are lucky enough to have this opportunity before taking the exam, the exam will be a breeze.

Good Luck!

James Trembulak is the Search Account Manager at Flying Cork.