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January 2016 - Posts

  • How Will the Web Look and Feel in 2016?

    Jan 22 2016
    how-will-the-web-look-and-feel-in-2016-hai-tran

    Design trends often span several years, even decades. Most websites and applications of the past decade continue to follow common layout patterns: header, footer, sidebars and content area. We look back at three of the biggest design trends of 2015 and how they'll impact 2016.

    1. To Scroll or Not to Scroll?
      Most designers agree that the trend of long scrolling will continue into 2016. With mobile browsing now exceeding desktop, the fold is officially dead with new research proving that users don't mind scrolling.

      But is it the best experience for your brand's users? While this trend is hot, we've seen a number of sites opting to go toward the minimal, or even no-scroll, to focus and increase engagement with their users. (For example: Peugeot GTi - Chase the Line.) What the user sees on any given page is everything they need — no further scrolling required.
    2. Component-based and Object-oriented Design
      Object-oriented design isn't new, but it's only been the last year or so that we've seen a growing proliferation toward the ultra-efficient modular and component-based design for the Web. Instead of mocking up entire layouts and comps for every Web page, brands are designing sites using repeatable elements that can be used on different screens and different locations, both within a given website as well as outside of it.
    3. Rich and Subtle Animations
      Vision (sight) is the strongest of our five senses. It stimulates, inspires and even disgusts to capture our attention. With HTML5 becoming standard, users can now engage with content in a much deeper way without suffering from slow load times, lag and having to download additional plugins. Stand apart in the sea of sameness with rich and clever animations to stimulate and engage vision — from expansive, moving hero images and cinemagraphs to small-scale hovers, loading bars and micro-interactions.

      Expect to see this trend evolve this year as designers take it to another level. Get ready for transition animations with deeper thoughts behind them instead of seeing just a generic animation that simply looks pretty.


    In 2016, Web design will to continue to change and grow toward richer, more dynamic and personalized digital experiences. We'll see smarter solutions that improve the way we work, play, live, discover and learn online.


    Hai Tran - Creative Director

  • The Dangers of Misunderstanding Minimum Viable Product

    Jan 22 2016
    the-dangers-of-minimum-viable-product-jonathan-orosco

    Technology needs to move at the speed of business, which often requires companies developing new digital products and experiences to be nimble, iterative and live by the "ship or die" philosophy — which can flirt dangerously with mediocrity. Companies often adopt similar models from the startup world to stay competitive, including the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

    Originally developed as part of the "lean startup" methodology, MVP refers to "that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort." Over time, this definition slowly transformed to mean "the smallest thing you can build that lets you quickly make it around the build/measure/learn loop." Both definitions have gradually led to a growing problem, where some misinterpret and consequently misuse this concept entirely.

    One erroneous thought is that MVP is about just building something that is barely functional enough to get feedback. Consequently, those who fall for this misconception will often tend to eschew usability or reliability in the name of accelerated learning. However, it's important not to let MVP be an excuse to deliver a half-finished product. While software is never done, releasing features that aren't solid or work as expected ultimately lead to a poor customer experience.

    Remember, customers aren’t interested in helping you be a success; they're looking for a product to help solve their problem. Continue to ideate, prototype, build and analyze, but don't neglect to confirm quality before releasing your work into the wild.


    Jonathan Orosco - Interactive Producer

  • Experiential Trends on the Rise

    Jan 22 2016
    experiential-trends-on-the-rise-steffenie-zorner

    Last year, 79 percent of brands found a 2-to-1 ROI on their experiential investments and 95 percent of consumers were more inclined to make a purchase after attending an event (EventTrack). As experiential marketing grows and earns a larger share of marketing budgets, what kind of trends can we expect to see for consumer and B2B brands in 2016?

    1. Pop-ups and Mobile Units. As brands make larger initial investments in concepts and production, they are challenged to find ways to increase ROI through creative executions. Mobile units allow brands to bolster reach by attending cross-state, or even cross-country, events with relatively low transportation/operating costs. From prefab units to fully customized build-outs, expect creativity to soar on wheels.
    2. A Shift Towards Interactive. Videos, premiums and giveaways will still have a place at events, but this year, brands will focus on creating emotional connections through consumer experiences. Newer technology, including wearables, 3D, virtual reality and mobile app integration, will allow brands to customize the experience to an exact audience — and collect prospect information to boot.
    3. Increased PR and Social Integration. As marketers recognize the importance of strong themes and storytelling in their experiential programs, they will strengthen the partnership between experiential programs, PR and social media (and at times, paid media). Experiential gives brands plenty to talk about, and if done right, can produce loads of quality content as well. From using social to drive attendance and extend reach, to partnering with PR and paid media on custom programs, experiential marketing may become a true IMC partner.


    Steffenie Zorner - Team Manager

  • Top 5 Reasons to Conduct High-Impact Research in 2016

    Jan 22 2016
    top-5-reasons-conduct-high-impact-research-in-2016-tori-young

    It's 2016…should you be doing research this year? Absolutely! Even if you did it last year, your findings could already be outdated. Tech, culture, competitors and your audience change so rapidly that you need to measure in weeks, not years. Here are five actionable reasons to conduct research this year that will DO something for your business:

    1. Answer Bigger Business Issues. Think of your biggest business challenges right now. Do you have a clear understanding of your target and their needs? Could your processes be more efficient? Research will help identify the roots of a problem so you can move quickly to remedy
    2. Deliver Insights at the Speed of Decision-making. You're being asked to make decisions faster than ever. The good news is that today's research is moving at the speed of your decision-making needs, so there's no need to postpone research due to time constraints.
    3. Provide a Future View. Doing research now will keep you ahead of the curve as industry trends inevitably change. The strongest companies are those that consistently monitor the pulse of the market and are prepared for sudden shifts.
    4. Generate a 360-degree View. Target audience research is often the first and only research conducted. But not looking at the comprehensive business picture can set you back. Take time to research what's going on with your internal business strategies, your competitors and general market shifts.
    5. Impact the Business. Research is not restricted to marketing. Key findings can help to inform decisions all the way to the top. Ultimately, research is not about data. It's about insights that lead to strong recommendations that affect business decisions. When we know the "why," we can craft the smartest ways to say "how."


    Tori Young - VP, Brand Strategy

  • Two Things CMO Demands Will Dictate in 2016

    Jan 21 2016
    two-things-CMO-demands-will-dictate-in-2016-joe-phelpsAs we dive, head-first, into 2016, the focus of the chief marketing officer (CMO) should be driven by two objectives — achieving better collaboration and access to in-depth analytics.

    Better Collaboration Among Suppliers

    Near the top of the list of CMOs’ greatest frustrations are the disappointments they share in their agencies’ inability to work together to integrate the myriad of today’s communications platforms.

    C-suite executives are looking for harmony in their communications in 2016. They’re tired of departments and agencies fighting over budgets. They’ve had it with agencies trying to one-up each other and working from different strategies.

    They want peace and prosperity. In 2016 we’ll see more CMOs insisting their agency partners play nice, respect each other and collaborate. They must — in order to reap the power that comes from aligning the paid, owned, earned and shared media to speak with one brand voice. CMOs will seek agencies that will recommend what’s right for the client, not just what’s right for the agency. So, in 2016 the smarter agencies will see the advantage of working in harmony with their clients’ other partners. These agencies will work as a team for the client’s benefit. They’ll learn from each other. As a result they will all gain from their combined efforts.

    Greater Demand for Analytics
    Organic and paid search (SEO/SEM) is becoming the most powerful marcom medium. Those searching are more in the information-seeking and buying modes. So it’s about giving them what they want quickly and clearly, and less about vying for their attention. The most effective media has shifted to more permissive and less interruptive messaging.

    Yet, analytics is obviously more than SEO/SEM. Using marcom as an example of opportunities available: What social media listening tools or brand passion indices are companies using? And how do they take that information (along with their web analytics or email analytics) to adjust content, offers, customer service, etc.?

    As this happens, marcom becomes more deeply involved with the operational workings of the company — the three marketing “Ps” — Product development, Place of distribution and Pricing. For sellers to meet demand for product and service features, and reach their target more efficiently, the demand for analytics increases and drives the integration of all elements of a business.

    Every discipline across the board needs to better understand what resonates with their target. Whether it is product design, sales, customer service or marketing communications, the analytics for one discipline can drive understanding for others. Every discipline needs to have access to and understand all the analytics. For example, if PR specialists know what content is resonating on the website or in an email campaign, that content can become a pitch that will likely resonate with a journalist or blogger.

    So back to my #1 prediction: Collaboration and integration can be both synergistic and symbiotic — whether it’s among departments in one company or among consultants. And fresh information from analytics provides the fuel to help this happen.

     

    Joe Phelps - Chairman/CEO

    This article was originally published on CommPRO.biz in January 2016.