5 Things You Can Do Now to Build Trust in a Digital World

Top industry leaders know that trust is the cornerstone of business development. As society grows increasingly dependent on digital communication, however, establishing trust with prospective customers seems harder than ever. According to Salesforce, over 60 percent of customers said it’s hard for a company to earn their trust.

How exactly can a company earn trust in an online world where breaches in cybersecurity and online scams make headlines? Despite these challenges for businesses, establishing online credibility is more crucial than ever before.  In this blog post, we share five ways to build trust in a digital world.

Building Trust Starts With Transparency

According to a recent survey, 86% of Americans believe transparency is more important now than ever before, and that nine in 10 people would be willing to give a second chance after a poor customer experience when an organization is transparent and has a history of transparency. With today’s informed consumer, it is no longer enough to create a catchy logo or jingle and expect the masses to buy into the message you are selling. Potential customers want your website to be informative and user-friendly – whether viewed on a computer or smartphone. They want to know exactly what your brand has to offer, including the prices for your services. Customers don’t like hidden surprises or the impression that they are not being given all the facts, so make sure that everything potential clients need to know is easy to find, thorough and truthful.

Keep Customer Service in Style to Show Customer Appreciation

Responsive customer service is still important in a world that is increasingly more digital. For starters, B2B companies should always answer website inquiries about their products or services within 24 hours if possible. The same theory applies for consumer interactions on social media. Creating a memorable connection with existing and prospective customers on social media by answering their questions or having a quick but meaningful conversation humanizes your brand and builds trust in your company. When developing an email marketing campaign, make sure to thank customers after purchasing a product and ask if there are other ways your business could help. New digital technologies and social media features provide companies with agile ways to connect, help and show customers appreciation in real-time.

Have Values and Stand Behind Them

Transparency in your products and services is not the only form of transparency that is important to your potential customers; they want to see transparency and authenticity in your brand values as well. When used frequently and effectively, social media provides real-time opportunities for brands to connect directly with their audience, which can go far in developing brand loyalty and gaining new customers. Because consumers can instantly research and learn about a company’s personality, values and ethics, it is important that brands remain genuine and consistent with the image and values they are conveying to the public. Consumers are not afraid to make their voices heard to millions of people through social media posts regarding your company’s approach at a high level, so be clear about your brand values and stick to them! Develop social media content and marketing emails that project an accurate narrative that lends credibility to your unique brand persona.

Go Beyond the Digital Landscape with Prospects to Establish Offline Credibility

Remember that it is easier to establish trust in digital interactions if your brand has already established a trustworthy reputation in the real world. Think of ways you can build credibility with prospects, like memberships in industry organizations and speaking opportunities, such as panels, webinars and networking functions. The digital world has made finding these opportunities — and nurturing the connections you make at each — easier than ever. Through networking, encourage the people you meet to visit your website and follow and engage with your brand on social media. Remember, relationship-building is essential to earning trust, so be authentic and transparent as you start conversations and build relationships with others.

Create an Emotional Appeal to Your Brand

Review your website. Does it include client testimonials and success stories — as well as highlight examples of your work? This type of content can create a personal, even emotional, appeal for your brand and help convey your overall brand message in unique and memorable ways. Some research suggests brands that inspire a higher emotional intensity receive three times as much word-of-mouth promotion as less emotionally connected brands.

Building trust with your customers and prospects in a digital world takes time, energy and resources, but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact Prototype Marketing today for help developing strategies to increase transparency, engagement and trust in your brand.

Why Content Marketing Is Still a Worthwhile Investment in 2022

Six Benefits of Content Marketing

Investing in Content Marketing Adds Value to Your Business in Many Ways

Do you have a company blog? Are you posting links to your articles on your social media feeds? Then you already have the basics of a content marketing program. It’s defined as “the practice of creating, publishing and sharing content with the goal of building the reputation and visibility of your brand.”

Content marketing is one of the most effective marketing tactics you can use these days. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B companies are using it to achieve their marketing goals. It’s a long-term approach, so choosing it as a strategy requires spending both time and money. The effectiveness and results that content marketing can deliver make it a worthwhile investment with a strategic and effectively executed plan.

Here are six benefits of making an investment in a content marketing program.

Storytelling Is Highly Effective at Engaging and Persuading an Audience

Content marketing, at its core, tells your company’s story in a wide variety of ways. The end goal of content marketing is to tell your company’s story in a way that drives deep understanding, engagement and ultimately a positive perception and reaction. The kind of connection a content consumer makes with a company or brand is one that is highly memorable and one that frequently drives action, both immediate and in the future.

Build Brand Loyalty With Content Marketing

The objective of most marketing programs is to build a customer base that loves your company or brand. They may love your company because of a positive experience that they have had with your products or services, or because of a great customer service experience they have had. Even in B2B marketing, a customer can be moved by your company’s mission, origin story or a sense of connection with employees or leaders — and that is what a great content marketing program can foster. It tells stories that aren’t necessarily overtly promotional. With your company as the author, the subject and the source, you are establishing your company as a thought leader, which drives connection in a more authentic and powerful way.

Content Marketing Increases Web Traffic

Creating and publishing engaging content that keeps readers on the page helps drive higher page rank on a search engine results page. Why? Because search engines are programmed to show the best, most relevant results first. Search engines evaluate content by watching the behavior of searchers as they click on results. If your articles keep visitors reading after they land on your website, that tells the search engine that it’s likely that the reader found what they were looking for. It’s also telling the search engine that the content was authoritative and compelling. Engaging content draws more highly qualified visitors to your site, and it keeps them there — visiting other pages on your site, reading more about your company and increasing the likelihood that they will convert into a contact or sale.

Content Marketing Can Highlight What Sets You Apart

At your company there are probably certain stories that highlight the key differentiators and advantages of your company. No matter the narrative, you should bring the story to life on the platform that tells it best – whether that’s a blog post, video, podcast or a photo gallery. From there, you can distribute it to the audience most likely to be interested. Putting engaging content in front of the most interested individuals — and managing it for your own goals — is at the heart of content marketing’s valuable impact.

Content Marketing Builds a Library of Valuable Assets and Intellectual Property

As you begin to tell stories, you’ll start building a library of creative assets. Blog posts, website articles, e-books, photos, videos and podcast recordings are tangible assets of your company. They are paid for and continue to deliver returns as long as they are published. A two-year-old video that explains how your product or service works will continue to get traffic if it’s relevant and effectively optimized.

Many of the content assets you create can be repurposed in dozens of ways, meaning you save money in the future by already having a piece of content that can be edited or reworked to serve a different purpose and to a different audience. Think of it as inventory that is paid for, that doesn’t depreciate and that has ongoing advantages for a long time after initial purchase.

Content Marketing Creates High-Quality Leads and High Conversion Rates

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing generates three times more leads than outbound marketing, and costs 62% less. How and why does content marketing generate so many more leads? It’s all about consumer behavior. Authentic, compelling and useful content creates a deeper level of interest in your brand, which leads these prospects to an action such as downloading an e-book, registering for a webinar or signing up for an email newsletter. All three of those actions give you contact information, which then becomes a potentially valuable lead.

As you can see, content marketing is a worthwhile and valuable long-term investment. It is also one of the most effective marketing strategies, building tangible value for your company that delivers impressive returns.

Ready to create or improve your content marketing program? Contact the content marketing experts at Prototype Marketing and start connecting with and converting your audience today. Call us at 434-846-2333 or send us an email.

Is Influencer Marketing for Your Business?

Who has the most influence to promote your brand?

In the past, those who had the most influence on mainstream popular culture were famous celebrities — actors, athletes and musicians. But thanks to the significant global impact of social media over the last ten years, it no longer takes Michael Jordan posing on a Wheaties box to convince children across the world that a breakfast cereal will transform them into elite athletes. 

Now, some of the biggest authorities on trends and products are the appropriately named “influencers” on social media. 

Recent research indicates influencer marketing can deliver an 11 times higher return on investment than some traditional marketing tactics, but influencer marketing is not for every brand. These findings suggest, though, that business owners should take another look at their marketing strategy and decide if influencer marketing is an effective tool to reach their target audience.

Surprisingly, influencer marketing can have a more significant impact on B2B companies over B2C companies. Mainly because the average purchase amount in B2B is typically far larger than that of B2C. Additionally, a study conducted by Convince and Convert found that while 19 percent of the overall U.S. economy (B2B and B2C) is driven specifically by word of mouth, 91 percent of B2B transactions are at least influenced by word of mouth. 

If you think influencer marketing could work for your company, let’s explore how it can be done effectively to boost your company’s ROI. 

Conduct research to find the right influencer

A report by eMarketer says 75 percent of influencer marketers struggle to find the right influencer, but making sure you have the right person who can appropriately showcase your company’s products and services is crucial to successful influencer marketing. Obviously, if your business sells a variety of meat products, your top choice for an influencer for your brand would not be someone who goes by the moniker “Vegan 4Ever.” When looking for the ideal influencer to represent your brand, a great place to begin is to search for people who are already supporting your business. This can involve going through the followers on your company’s social platforms to see if any of them have a large fan base, or quickly researching your business on the Internet to see if it has been mentioned by any popular bloggers. Also take note of employees within your company. They should already be big fans and if they have a respectable number of fans on social media they could be a perfect, reliable influencer to effectively represent your brand’s voice and values.

Don’t forget to research your target audience

Just as it’s important to research potential influencers for your brand, it is also important to make sure you understand the type of influencer who would connect with your target demographic. Find out what brands and influencers your social media followers are following, liking and engaging with on social media. If necessary, conduct a B2B buyer persona that details exactly what your audience enjoys and searches for in a brand. Even if a popular influencer uses your products or services, if they have other interests or a certain energy that could be off-putting to your current customers, they won’t be worth the investment.

Know your budget

As with any new marketing tactic, understanding how influencer marketing plays into your budget is an important factor in finding the perfect influencer for your company. Keep in mind that every influencer has their own price, which is usually dictated by factors such as their number of followers and engagement rate. Influencers can be broken down into the following levels:

  • Mega-Influencers: Over a million followers, often celebrities, usually paid 4 to 6 figures per post, less than 1% engagement rate.
  • Macro-Influencers: 10K to 1M followers, usually paid 3 to 5 figures per post, 2% engagement rate.
  • Micro-Influencers: 1K to 10K followers, usually paid 2 to 3 figures per post, 3-4% engagement rate.
  • Local influencers: 0 to 1K followers, followers are friends and family, do not usually get paid, engagement rate varies.

These levels determine the cost of having the influencer promote your business. Remember that it’s not always beneficial to choose the influencer with the most followers, especially if they could monopolize your budget. Also, if your business is part of a niche industry, chances are high that the top influencers for your business will have fewer followers. Review your B2B buyer persona to see if your target audience likes to have a lot of interaction with brands. If they do, it is more advantageous to select an influencer with fewer followers but a higher engagement rate (which will probably be less expensive as well), than to choose a mega-influencer who will rarely communicate directly with customers.

Go beyond social media

While much focus of influencer marketing is placed on the number of followers an influencer has on social media, great influencers for your company can be found in other areas as well. Incredibly influential people can be found in the form of authors, speakers, thinkers, podcasters, researchers and more. If you find a potential representative that has high visibility but may not have a large social media following, consider creating short videos or guest blog features that your business can place on its website or social media platforms. Influencer marketing is all about being creative, so don’t be afraid to step out of the box – it could have a positive impact on your business in the long run!

Could influencer marketing be right for your brand? Contact Prototype Marketing at 434.846.2333 to learn more about this trendy marketing tactic. 

Animating your Brand for Competitive Advantages

Today’s digital world is continually changing and evolving. Internet users are constantly consuming content, and it is easy to get lost in the mix. It is important to stay ahead of the game to keep up with everchanging algorithms.  

Animation has become a popular trend in digital marketing because it captivates consumers more than text or photos. According to HubSpot, 85% of consumers want to see more video content from brands. Animation uses dynamic components to engage viewers, which increases retention of the content. Studies have shown that animation in marketing campaigns leaves a longer lasting impression on viewers. Here are four ways your brand can use animation to liven up your marketing experience.

Explainer Videos

On average, B2B videos that are shorter than 60 seconds are watched in entirety 68% of the time. Explainer videos are extremely popular for companies wanting to show complex products to their customers. Live-action explainer videos tend to be longer and do not keep viewers engaged. Animated explainer videos convey a product in a fast, engaging and easy-to-understand way. 

Animated explainer videos show the complexities of a product or process quickly, while also keeping the viewer visually stimulated. Processes can be simplified for consumers, making it easier for them to understand your products and services. Well-executed animation can persuade consumers to seriously consider purchasing a product, promote more engagement, and increase brand loyalty by helping customers visualize complex solutions. Using animation does not have to mean cartoons. Many successful companies use highly realistic animated footage to portray scenes that may have been difficult to film, such as the inner workings of equipment that cameras cannot reach. 

Email Marketing

On average, consumers get an average of 120 emails every day between personal and business accounts. Your company must do something to stand out in email inboxes. Animated videos and GIFs inside emails can increase engagement and retention of the email’s contents. A promotional email can be elevated using animation, creating a memorable impression on consumers. It is crucial to place your call to action in or around your animation as recipients are more connected with animation than text.


In the past few years, many companies have begun to animate their logo. A memorable use of animation is the Google logo, which changes often for holidays and special events. Animating your company’s logo can increase brand awareness because consumers are more likely remember it compared to a static logo. 

Animated logos do not have to be complex or expensive to produce. Adding a small, animated element draws attention to your logo, increasing brand awareness and retention. For example, FedEx animated their logo with arrows representing speed and direction. Logos with animation can demonstrate brand positioning unconsciously to consumers.

Social Media Ads

Social media advertising promotes your brand to unaware consumers and adding animation to your advertising creates a lasting impression that will stick with users longer than a static advertisement. Facebook’s algorithm change in 2016 gave preference to videos over other posts. Therefore, a short, animated video can be viewed by more people and create a longer-lasting impression than a photo. 

Social media users are looking to be entertained, not just be presented with information. Animation adds an element of entertainment and increases brand trustworthiness because consumers feel they are receiving more than just a sales pitch. Advertisements on social media using animation are more likely to be noticed and retained by those scrolling through their feeds.

Animation is appealing to consumers and highly personalized to your brand, increasing brand awareness and retention. It is clear and concise, which is what consumers in the digital landscape are looking for. Animation is an important tool in your marketing strategy that can increase results of a campaign, whether it be more followers or web traffic.

The experts at Prototype Marketing can create animation for your company that engages viewers for desired results. Call us today at 434-846-2333 or visit prototype-marketing.com for more information.

Integrating Digital Calls-to-Action with Graphics

In today’s digital world, direct mail remains one of the most effective and profitable forms of advertising and since the pandemic, it has become even more appreciated. According to the US Postal Service, people are more excited to receive mail each day since the pandemic, and 34 percent of consumers are scanning direct mail ads for deals more now than before the pandemic. 

As presented in a session titled “What You’re Missing About Today’s Direct Mail,” during The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Direct Mail Virtual Conference, these statistics demonstrate just how powerful direct mail is for moving people to action:

  • 68% say they use coupons they get in the mail
  • 46% say direct mail encourages them to go online for more information about the advertiser
  • 41% say direct mail encourages them to make an online purchase from an advertiser

As you can see, an effective call to action, or CTA, is crucial to the success of any direct mail campaign. But the traditional “call today” may not be enough to stay competitive.

So how about integrating digital calls-to-action into your direct mail campaigns? A digital CTA prompts the reader to respond to your direct mail digitally through a website address, QR code, social media channel or more.  

Social Media Icons

According to WyzResearch, social media icons are the top used digital CTA in direct mail. Including social media icons not only offers visual appeal to your mailings, but also establishes trust, especially with millennials and gen-zrs who have grown up with social media. 

Social sharing can give your direct mail additional reach and could even go viral with the right incentive. For example, “Follow us on social media and share this offer with your friends for a chance to win…” 

QR Codes

The second most used CTAs are QR Codes. These easy-to-use squares offer a simple way to get customers to your website or social media channels. Your customers can simply scan a QR code on your postcard with their smartphones or tablets and be immediately taken to your website, blog or social media profile. You set the destination! 

Get creative! QR codes are not just for URLs anymore, here are some examples of ways you can use QR codes to engage with your customers:

  • Scan to read our blog
  • Scan for an instructional video
  • Scan to download a free e-book
  • Scan to enter a contest or giveaway
  • Scan to register for our event
  • Scan for a 20% off coupon
  • Scan to hear our story (or podcast)

The options are endless.

URLs or “Visit Our Website”

WyzResearch shows URLs are still the third most popular CTA, and for good reason. Your website is one of the best tools for generating leads and converting them to sales. Add forms to the pages that get the most traffic to obtain contact information for your prospect list, and make sure these popular pages are doing everything they can to nurture the visitor’s interest.  

Through website analytics, you can gain valuable insights into who your customer is and what interests them. By knowing your visitors’ demographics and interests, you can create targeted content and get better visibility on search engines. 

Personalized Calls-to-Action

With today’s technology, it is so easy to personalize your direct mail campaigns. Long gone are the days of offset printing, when printers had to create plates before running the press, resulting in large set up fees and minimum quantities. Today, with print on demand, set up time is minimal, and printers can easily integrate your contact data and other personalized content into the job. Here are some ways you can personalize your calls-to-action in your direct mail.

  • Personalized URLs (PURLs): When your prospect visits their PURL, their contact information is already pre-populated, and the message is very specific to them. The CTA would read something like, “Go to {companyname].com/[prospect name] for your personalized pricing.”
  • Variable Data Printing (VDP): VDP is a form of digital printing that is data driven, allowing for total customization. VDP automates the process so each piece looks like it has been designed and printed specifically for each recipient and can include anything from the prospect’s name, unique salutation, text, coupons, tracking numbers, PURLs and even maps.
  • USPS Informed Delivery: Customers who sign up for this free service from the US Postal Service receive scanned images of their household mail before actually receiving it in their mailbox. They can view the images via email, an online dashboard or the mobile app. For businesses, this service offers a new opportunity to engage users through an integrated mail and digital marketing campaign that generates additional customer impressions, interactions and insights. 

By integrating these digital calls-to-action into your direct mail campaigns, you will create effective multichannel marketing opportunities that will reach a broader array of customers right when and where they are — whether that is on their computers reading social media, on their phones or at their mailboxes. 

The experts at Prototype Marketing can help you integrate, personalize and profit from your direct mail and digital marketing campaigns. Call us today at 434-846-2333 or visit prototype-marketing.com for more information.